Red Room Blog
19th November 2019
Mapping poetry to the body – Tricia Dearborn
By Tricia Dearborn
Tricia Dearborn reflects on her new poem ‘Here/Not here', created as part of her Red Room Poetry Fellowship 2019 shortlist commission.
My poem sequence ‘Here/Not here’ takes its inspiration from the Red Room Poetry project The Disappearing, which ‘maps poetry to place’. In ‘Here/Not here’ the site is my own body. The sequence explores a specific response to abuse and trauma: the way in which the self, or parts of the self, can be usefully and strategically ‘disappeared’ via the protective mechanism of dissociation. Dissociation allows a person to disconnect from certain intellectual and emotional aspects of reality. It’s an extremely valuable survival strategy, but when it persists beyond the time it is useful or is triggered later in life (often by seemingly innocuous events that have links to past trauma), it can be profoundly disruptive and disorientating.
Although we’re seeing more poets these days writing eloquently about mental health, I have not come across much poetry that addresses this particular psychological phenomenon. Mapping some of the alterations of consciousness that dissociation can give rise to was a wonderful artistic challenge.
On a personal level, it was occasionally challenging to stay present while recalling these experiences so as to distil them into poetic form. It was also tremendously satisfying to wrangle these experiences, so difficult to describe, into words; to create something from them.